The scientist does not study nature because it is useful. He studies it because he delights in it because it is beautiful.
-Jules Henri Poincare (1854-1912)
Although we had a busy summer this year, we still managed some days spent at the creek. We brought along our nets and 'nature kit' with magnifying glass, identifying guides (bugs, birds, and mushrooms), specimen jars, nature journal and various other collecting tools. A few times we brought along some of our friends. Mostly the kids just played in the water, explored along the paths, and tried to catch fish with their nets. One afternoon Henry found a snake under a rock by the water's edge. We admired him for a while before he slithered off across the water with his head held high.
I like to bring along this book from 1936. It's a bit technical, but we've used it to learn a little more about some of the creatures we found.
Field Book of Ponds and Streams
Ann Haven Morgan 1936
I picked up Sharing Nature with Children at the thrift store last spring and it quickly became one of my favorite books for teaching. For all my homeschooling friends out there, you absolutely must get your hands on this book. I even had visions of using it to lead a "Science lesson" for a group of kids this summer! (I'm still open to the idea if anyone is interested).
Joseph Cornell 1998
Each lesson is a unique and creative way for children to experience nature. For example, one lesson is titled "Meet a Tree". Children are blindfolded and led to find and explore a tree trunk with their hands and other senses. Then when the blind folds are taken off, they must try to find "their" tree again. Some of the lessons are simply to lie quietly on the forest floor, observing the sounds and smells and feelings of the nature around you. I LOVE encouraging children to learn this way.